Have you noticed that networking is no longer confined to a roomful of professionals in suits anymore? It can happen in almost any environment, and very often occurs online. In the PR world, and here at Franco Public Relations Group, we connect regularly on sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Whether I’m attending an important work event or invested in a PR chat on Twitter, I’ve noticed that an outgoing personality and the ability to small talk with the best of them can go far. Still, there are so many reasons to take time out for networking – both online and off. Here are a few to consider:
Expand your circle – Networking allows you to meet a variety of professionals both within and surrounding your profession who you might not have encountered otherwise. At Franco we assist clients with media relations, events and everything in between, so if I meet an amazing new Detroit caterer during an event, I might introduce myself, ask a few questions and take a card in case an opportunity might arise in the future when we’re in need of that service.
Increase your opportunities – Making a point of seeking individuals who offer new opportunities to volunteer in your field can only help you hone your professional skills. A few years ago, I answered an online request to help my friends at The Henry Ford when they were in need of PR volunteers for the first Maker Faire. That’s where I first met Marie Stawasz, who later connected with me here at Franco when she was seeking an internship. She saw a tweet I sent out to my personal Twitter network. Marie started at Franco as an intern and is now a full-time employee. Some might say it all started thanks to the magic of networking.
Change your career – It’s a natural fit to connect that who-you-know aspect of your valuable business connections with career advancement. By consciously building your own contacts, you can earn an edge over the competition when it comes to getting that interview. I made a career change from journalism to public relations at a time when unemployment in Detroit was high. I gave my notice without a safety net and contacted everyone I knew in the media and PR industry to tell them I was interested in making a change. Thankfully, my contacts responded. While making the switch wasn’t easy, I didn’t spend a day on unemployment, and I attribute that to proactive networking efforts.
Build your business – Networking may not always come naturally, but when it’s done right, it can ultimately win new business. Remember whether you’re attending events or connecting on Twitter and Facebook, this is not time for the hard sell. You’re there to learn, engage and discuss relevant subjects at hand. Build relationships. Share some free advice if you’re comfortable doing so. That’s the sort of thing that will be appreciated and remembered at a later date. If you’re nervous about the specific how-to’s that go along with networking, check out Bill Crimmins’ post in GeekWire.
What do you feel are the benefits of networking, and how has it changed for you over the years?
Stephanie Angelyn Casola is connector and a senior account executive at Franco PR Group. Reach out to her at email@example.com, @StephCasola on Twitter or Facebook.com/StephanieAngelynCasola. Call 313.567.5048.